Washington State linebacker Dylan Hanser forces UCLA wide receiver Jordan Lasley to fumble the ball late in the fourth quarter of the Bruins’ 27-21 loss to the Cougars. (Young Kwak / Associated Press)
Even without a running threat for more than a month, UCLA was within striking distance for all four of its losses this season, but failed to finish on the final drives. As a result, head coach Jim Mora emphasized a finishing mentality this week as the Bruins prepared for Utah (1 p.m., FOX, AM 570).
With four losses already, if the Bruins don’t finish this game with a victory, their already slim chances for a Pac-12 South crown could be finished as well.
The search for UCLA’s long-lost running game continues Saturday at the Rose Bowl as the Bruins face No. 19 Utah at 1 p.m.
It’s been well documented here and in many other places that UCLA’s running game is one of the worst in the nation. It took a nose dive against BYU (rushing for only 50 yards) and never resurfaced during Pac-12 play.
During the past four games, 39.8 percent of UCLA’s rushing attempts have gone for no gain or negative yardage. An additional 24.7 percent have gone for just 1 to 3 yards. The Bruins only have three running plays of longer than 16 yards against Pac-12 opponents this season.
Here’s a look at how rushing attempts have been split up during the conference schedule, showing some information about yardage gained by each rusher. Continue reading
For the second time in as many meetings with the media prior to the season, UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford was asked about the public letter he wrote following last season, an apology for the fourth losing campaign at UCLA since John Wooden retired 41 years ago.
In his response on Friday at Pac-12 media day in San Francisco, Alford referenced Wooden himself, citing the expectations at UCLA created by a man whose accomplishments are unmatched by any coach in the history of college basketball.
“Coach Wooden raised the bar at UCLA,” Alford said. “That bar was raised a long time ago in Westwood by a guy that won a bucket-load of games and a lot of championships and established something that, quite honestly, hasn’t been established anywhere else in the country. So when that bar is that way, there’s expectations. When you don’t meet or come close to those expectations, we talk to our players all the time, there are going to be consequences.”
Alford made clear the consequences to which he referred included his voluntary return of a one-year contract extension through 2020-21, information in the letter he penned after losing the final five games of last season to finish 15-17. Continue reading
From left to right, T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu and Lonzo Ball form the No. 5 recruiting class in the country, according to rivals.com.
Only Oregon and Arizona were chosen to finish ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. Returning nearly all of the Elite Eight team from last season, Oregon received 23 of the first-place votes and Arizona the remaining four, but UCLA finished third by a wide margin.
In the poll released Friday at Pac-12 Media Day, 50 votes separated the Bruins from Cal, which finished 10 votes ahead of fifth-place Colorado. Featuring perhaps the best freshman in the country in Markelle Fultz, Washington finished sixth, followed by USC and Utah.
UCLA can argue it may have the best freshman in the country in Lonzo Ball. Only Arizona landed a more highly ranked group of freshman in the conference than UCLA’s top-five recruiting class including forward T.J. Leaf and center Ike Anigbogu.
Seeing as the Bruins graduated just one player from the team that finished only ahead of Arizona State and Washington State last season, UCLA was richly rewarded by the media for their recruiting haul.
2016-17 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Oregon (23)
2. Arizona (4)
3. UCLA Continue reading
UCLA freshman Austin Kent gets off a 26-yard punt in the first quarter Saturday against Washington State. (Young Kwak/The Associated Press)
UCLA had a very bad punting game last season as the Bruins once had a punt go 0 yards. Then Austin Kent outdid that effort with a minus-1-yard punt last week against Washington State.
The moment was a terrible low in what UCLA hopes will become a career full of highs for the freshman punter.
“He’s a young guy that hit a little dip,” head coach Jim Mora said, “and we have to help him get back on track so we’re really trying to do that and everybody’s encouraging him.”
More on Kent’s up-and-down start to his college career.